At the dawning of the new millennium, Southern Baptists are broadcasting the Good News twenty-four hours each day to millions of North American homes. Life-changing testimonies abound, such as:
• "Last night on Swan's Place, Dr. Swanberg explained how I could accept Jesus as my Savior. I want you to know that I did ask Jesus into my heart. Thank you so much for caring for my family and me."
• "Thanks to COPE on FamilyNet, when my sister told me she was thinking about taking her life, I didn't panic. As I learned from the program, I asked her calmly if she had a plan, if she had a timetable, and if she would make a contract with me not to hurt herself or anyone else without talking with me first. She told me up until then she really didn't think anyone cared if she lived or died. And, she agreed to make a contract with me. She is now getting professional help and is beginning to enjoy life again."
• The morning after a lone gunman killed seven youth and adults before taking his own life in the sanctuary of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, FamilyNet television was broadcasting COPE nationwide to millions of homes. The program offered a Christian perspective for viewers in agony over the tragic loss of life and enabled them to call in their questions. FamilyNet also aired a two-hour memorial tribute to the slain youth and adults. Many testified as to how their lives had been changed through the powerful witness of the slain youth and adults. And, when a shooting occurred in another Southern Baptist church on a Wednesday night just two weeks later, FamilyNet was on the air "live" the next morning with Wedgwood pastor Dr. Al Meredith offering counsel, prayer, and a word of hope to the Baptist church family in California.
• Well over 20,000 persons have made inquiring calls to the 1-800-NEED HIM response line after learning about it on FamilyNet. Over 2,000 of these callers accepted Christ. (The number of calls will dramatically increase as the North American Mission Board's Evangelism Response Center links thousands of encouragers from SBC "covenant" churches to seekers when they call 888-JESUS 2000.)
• One young lady called the NEED HIM response line and identified herself as Wiccan. She claimed to know nothing about Jesus or the Bible, and told the phone counselor, "I don't know who Jesus is really or what He did, but I just know I want Him." She asked the counselor to explain all about Him, all the while sneaking around to make the call because her parents – also Wiccans – would have been very angry with her. The counselor led her to the Lord.
• Tens of millions of Americans are hearing a clear proclamation of the gospel message because of documentaries being produced annually by Southern Baptists.
• Over 2.7 million persons are listening each week to five radio programs produced by Southern Baptists for nationwide distribution. Scores of individuals respond each week in search of spiritual help.
These are just a few examples of how Southern Baptists are utilizing broadcast radio and television for evangelism and ministry. This programming is being produced by the Broadcast Communications Group (BCG) of the North American Mission Board in Fort Worth. In keeping with the challenge of SBC President Paige Patterson to intensify the use of broadcasting to impact the continent for Christ, the BCG is seeking to deliver broadcast/cablecast programming to even more communities.
As another form of outreach through television, the BCG airs Gospel Jubilee and Swan's Place on the Odyssey Network. In addition, BCG arranges for placement of prominent SBC ministry programs on Odyssey, such as Invitation to Life, Baptist Hour, Love Worth Finding, In Touch, and Winning Walk.
Individuals and churches throughout the United States and Canada can help multiply these broadcasting efforts in the following ways:
o Ask the local cable television system manager to carry FamilyNet television, Southern Baptists' 24-hour-per-day Christian network. FamilyNet is already available at some time each week to over 40 million homes via cable television as well as low and full power broadcast stations. Programs like COPE, Gospel Jubilee, Swan's Place, Nana Puddin', and The Call are designed to reach into American homes with a clear presentation of the gospel. Plus, FamilyNet airs programming from some of Southern Baptists' greatest pulpits. Free media kits, which include specific guidance on how to secure cable carriage of FamilyNet, are available from the BCG.
o Contact local radio stations to express a desire to hear one or more of the five FamilyNet radio programs. Each of the programs is targeted to a different radio station format: Baptist Hour (Southern Baptists' longest-running radio show at over fifty-eight continuous years is aimed at a general audience), Powerline (adult contemporary), Country Crossroads (country), On Track (contemporary Christian), and Master Control (talk/variety). Powerline and Country Crossroads are celebrating their thirtieth anniversaries this year.
o Ask ABC, NBC, and CBS station managers to carry the annual documentaries produced by the Broadcast Communications Group of NAMB in cooperation with the networks. Examples of recent productions on ABC are Common Ground (the life and ministry of Dr. Billy Graham) and Valor (life-changing stories of Medal of Honor recipients from the Korean and Vietnam Wars). NBC specials Driving Force (NASCAR) and Hoop Heroes (National Basketball Association) are filled with moving testimonies of Christian athletes. BCG staff members also serve as consultants for CBS Television's Religion and Culture Series.
Southern Baptists are positively impacting lives through television and radio airwaves. There is something good available for television and radio – Southern Baptists' FamilyNet. For more information on how to help and to secure a free FamilyNet program guide, call 800/832-6638 or visit the FamilyNet web site at http://www.familynet.org.
On the Air
All program times are Eastern Standard Time. Local affiliates may air some programs at different times.
Host Dr. Karen Hayter and guests offer biblical advice on a variety of topics via a toll-free telephone number. This "live," daily program celebrated its 15th anniversary in October. The program will add new elements in January. (Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.)
Gary McSpadden hosts this hour of gospel favorites in the amphitheater of Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., featuring many of the today's most popular Christian artists. Over 30,000 enthusiastic attendees participated in this season's tapings in Missouri where they heard great music and a clear presentation of the gospel. (Tuesday, 11 p.m.; Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday, 1 a.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m.)
Christian humorist Dennis Swanberg, along with other comedians and musicians, delight viewers and share their faith each week. (Tuesday, 9:30 a.m.; Wednesday, 8 p.m.; Thursday, 1 a.m.; Saturday, 4:30 & 9 p.m.)
This lively children's series is colorful and full of action. Award-winning ventriloquist Dennis Lee hosts this half-hour of fast-moving skits, songs, and special guests. Interwoven with the good times is a solid message teaching children how to make the best choices in life. (Friday, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.)
This new NAMB flagship program is a series which shows God at work. Real people tell their own stories of how they truly experience God Who created everything. Sometimes they get a call from God in a quiet, intimate encounter; sometimes it's in a major event.